BEVERLY HILLS, September 20, (THEWILL) – The politics of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria may have started in earnest. Interested candidates for the presidency have already begun nationwide consultations as they continue to test the waters for popularity and acceptance.
The general conviction is that having done two consecutive terms, President Muhammadu Buhari should be willing and ready to hand power over to a candidate from another region since the North, which he represents, has had more than its fair share of the number 1 position.
Though the two major political parties – the ruling All Progressive Congress and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party are yet to make their official position on the 2023 presidency known, the general belief is that the position should go to another region in line with the rotational and zoning arrangement that has been in place over the years.
It is unfortunate, however, that the North, which had benefitted immensely from the zoning arrangement for the presidential position for years, is now singing another tune because it appears that the pendulum is about to change in favour of another zone.
Surprisingly, as political scheming and consultations continue underground, the Igbos, that should have been making the loudest noise about its turn to take the mantle of leadership by producing the next president of Nigeria come 2023, are not making the bold move.
In all sincerity and in the true spirit of unity that binds all the people of Nigeria as one nation, THEWILL is convinced that the time has come for the Igbo race to produce the next president of Nigeria. The Igbo in Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Imo, Rivers, Enugu and Abia must unite and speak with one voice to achieve this elusive feat.
There is no iota of doubt that the Igbo have been treated as the underdog when it comes to the top job due to a combination of factors as the major ethnic group remains the only one in the country that has not actually produced a democratically-elected Executive President in the history of Nigeria.
The last time an Igbo was President of Nigeria was between 1963 – 1966 when the late statesman, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, was appointed to the office in a ceremonial role. The late Dr. Alex Ekwueme served as Vice President to President Shehu Shagari (1979-1983). His bid in 1999 to emerge presidential candidate of the PDP in 1999 was blocked by the power brokers behind the party, who opted for General Olusegun Obasanjo at the party’s convention in Jos.
Since then, the Igbo appear to have gone into the passive mode believing, inadvertently, that the Nigerian nation has not truly forgiven them over their role in the country’s civil war inspite of the “No Victor, No Vanquished” declaration after the war. It is therefore no surprise that, for the Igbo, individual and personal interest seems to have overtaken the desire to push for the common good.
It is unbelievable that the average Igbo politician seems to be interested in what comes to the table for him rather than the general interest of his or her people, hence most politicians from the zone feel comfortable once their personal bread is buttered.
The loud silence of the Igbo on the need to produce the next president of Nigeria was recently captured by a columnist of Igbo extraction who says, “The Igbo man seems to be battling with decisive indecision, discordant concord and absolute confusion.”
Aside the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, who was the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the 2015 presidential election, no other Igbo politician has come out boldly in recent times. Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, who also came out in 2019, but unfortunately, chickened out of the race because their campaigns did not gain traction.
Now, in the countdown to 2023, the Igbos should know that now is the time to start the real consultations and scheming for a lead role instead of allowing the other zones such as the South West and South South that have produced the president to take the shine off their intention. We are glad that the former Abia State governor, now a Senator, Orji Kalu, has started making some moves towards that goal.
We are also pleased that the pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has not abandoned the call for an Igbo president in 2023 just as others even out of the North such as the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and a Northern leader, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, have joined the call on Nigerians to help the Igbo to produce the next president.
The president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwobodo, recently restated the commitment of his association for an Igbo president, saying, “If a president of Igbo extraction was allowed to emerge in 2023, Nigeria would be turned around.”
For starters, the main opposition party, PDP, which the Igbos have overwhelmingly given their votes since 1999 must as a matter of priority and reward for absolute loyalty, ensure it zones its presidency to the Igbos in 2023.
The spokesperson of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, had earlier reiterated the resolve of the Igbo this time around to clinch the presidency, saying there won’t be any compromise.
According to Ibegbu, “In 1999, the ticket was Olusegun Obasanjo versus Olu Falae; in 2007, it was the late Yar’Adua versus Muhammadu Buhari; and in 2019, it was Buhari versus Abubakar Atiku. So in 2023, it should be Igbo versus Igbo. With this arrangement, Nigerians can then make their choice among the array of Igbo candidates.”
For Gowon, “If doing so (producing the next president) will bring peace, it should be done; if the people so desire.”
According to the former Head of State, “There was a time the PDP started rotational presidency, if that was continued, maybe the Igbo would have produced a President but that didn’t happen. If that can be done now, I don’t have a problem with it. Anybody can govern. There are many people in Nigeria, if God gives them and they will govern with the fear of God and love for Nigerians, we will make the desired progress.”
Yakassai, an elder from the North, was more emphatic on the case for an Igbo president.
In an interview, Yakassai said: “Nigeria had three major blocks. Two of these three namely, the North and the West have had the opportunity of producing the President. Therefore, Igbos have a good argument because out of the three siblings, two have already succeeded at producing the President but the Igbos have not.”
He however has a piece of advice for the Igbo.
“They (the Igbo) deserve the sympathy of all Nigerians for them to get it in 2023 or later. My opinion is that this is not a matter that one will lie down and think that it will come to him. Effort is needed. How do you go about it? This can only be done by persuasion to convince other Nigerians about the need for an Igbo to emerge the President of Nigeria,” he advised.
THEWILL is certain that there is wide sympathy amongst Nigerians for an Igbo president, so the Igbo must step up their game if indeed they are serious on taking up this challenge. The era of being passive is over and the Igbo should come all out to convince political leaders and stakeholders on what they are really entitled to. They should speak with one voice and align their strategies towards ensuring the achievement of the common goal.
We reiterate that true healing should start with an Igbo president in 2023 and a splinter group such as the Independent People of Biafra needs to work with Ohaeneze as well as other Igbo cultural groups spread across the country to achieve this goal instead of pursuing personal interests under the guise of fighting for restructuring.